Course Evaluation Data and Information

for English 511: Theory and Research in Composition

Fall Semester, 2004

Prof. Chris M. Anson



Before you begin: I strongly believe that teaching well is a lifelong pursuit--an art to be explored and developed, and a science that constantly presents new challenges and opportunities for analysis and growth. As a teacher, I am very much a learner. I need to reflect on what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Student evaluations are one source of information for me to reflect and improve. As such, I use them formatively, as information helpful in the improvement of a significant part of my professional life: teaching students and teaching other teachers.

But student evaluations can also have a more public function, displaying areas of my teaching that students find to be strong, and areas they find to be in need of improvement. Below, you will see evaluation data from the course and term indicated above, along with a bit of reflection from me about what I see in these numbers and comments. Please use this information responsibly. If you're deciding whether to take a course from me, consider what you see here not only as evidence of ability, but as evidence of my willingness to listen to your peers and improve my teaching in ways that respond to their justified concerns and needs. If you're a fellow professional looking at these data because you want to learn about or evaluate my work, please consider them only as one part of an overall plan for teacher effectiveness and a lifelong pursuit of excellence.

Thirteen students were enrolled in this section.

Following the numerical data are anonymously written comments from the students in the course. I have created a kind of "dialogue" from some of these comments by interspersing my own (italicized) thoughts and reflections. In some cases, I've made notes about ways to address specific concerns the next time I teach the course. By working on areas of concern, I can then match student opinions in future courses against those here to see whether the changes are having a positive impact on the course and on students.


The following chart shows each question on the NC State Department of English Course Evaluation Form. In the first box after the question appears the weighted mean of the results for that question (based on a scale of 1-5, as shown below). In the second box is a comparison with the weighted mean on that question for all courses taught in the English Department that semester. 5.0 is the highest mean score possible (every student would give a score of 5 on that question). Numbers in red indicate that the average is higher than that for the department.


Score of 5:
Strongly Agree
Score of 4:
Score of 3:
Score of 2:
Score of 1:
Strongly Disagree


Ave. Score
(whole dept.)
1. The instructor stated course objectives/outcomes.
2. The instructor was receptive to students outside the classroom.
3. The instructor explained difficult material well.
4. The instructor was enthusiastic about teaching the course.
5. The instructor was prepared for class.
6. The instructor gave prompt and useful feedback.
7. The instructor effectively used instructional technology.
8. The instructor consistently treated students with respect.
9. Overall, the instructor was an effective teacher.
10. The course readings were valuable aids to learning.
11. The course assignments were valuable aids to learning.
12. This course was intellectually challenging and stimulating.
13. This course improved my knowledge of the subject.
14. Overall, this course was excellent.

Average of all questions (Anson):


Average of all questions (whole department):


What these numbers are telling me:

This course is required of all prospective TAs of first-year composition (who then train for and teach ENG 101 the following year). Most students are eager to learn about composition theory and research regardless of their intended concentrations, because if they are going on in higher education know they it is likely they will teach composition later. However, occasionally a student majoring in an area somewhat unrelated to composition, such as British literature or even creative writing, will find the material unappealing. Although rare, it can take the form of a certain resistance to the material or the subject matter, or a kind of closed-mindedness and entrenchment in existing beliefs. This section suffered from one or two such cases, which clearly explains the low response to the question about the reading material (in a small-enrollment class, just two low scores can pull down the entire average). In addition, I was experimenting with moving the course a bit "higher" into theory and research, with somewhat less focus on daily kinds of pedagogical concerns (I removed the provision of a teaching portfolio as well as several teaching scenarios, and increased the reading). This was done in order to allow a stronger pedagogical focus in a later practicum that prepares teachers to teach first-year composition. Clearly, that move was not wise. On a midterm formative evaluation, the students expressed a strong desire for more application to teaching situations, more focus on classroom activities, and the like. In the next iteration, I will reinstate some of the earlier teaching focus and see if that makes a difference. Overall, then, I was somewhat disappointed with these scores, although most are above the 4.0 threshold, because in the past this course has received extremely high scores with consistent 5.0 scores for many items.

Anonymous Written Comments from Students (from the evaluations):

Knows a lot about the subject. Very enthusiastic about the course and teaching. Very flexible in changes/altering things concerning the needs of the students. Broad range of topics explored.

Dr. Anson is enthusiastic and knowledgable. He is always eager to help and give advice. If I hadn't been interested in the course material, I would have enjoyed the course just because of his teaching abilities. I would love to take another of his courses.

Great instructor. Very passionate about the subject and the field. His experience was instrumental to the success of the class. [Some classes] a little rushed. Sometimes seemed like too much information for too short a time.

Explored goals well; was enthusiastic/helpful. Needs more applications to help [prospective] TAs. Dr. Anson is a great teacher. I feel that I truly benefited from taking this class.

Showed enthusiasm for course and was well versed in current happenings in the field.

He knows his subject matter thoroughly and is very articulate.


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